|Birth: ||Feb. 12, 1930|
|Death: ||Mar. 21, 2007|
Joint obituary published in The Seattle Times and The Herald in Everett, WA, on March 2, 2008, as written by me, their surviving daughter:
"To our everlasting sorrow, our devoted and beloved parents, James G. and Reiko Norris, have moved on to their final assignment, and we take comfort only in knowing they will celebrate their 53rd wedding anniversary together once again.
They met on Okinawa, Japan, where our father was stationed early in his career of service with the USAF and our mother worked at a tailor shop sewing on uniform stripes for US military personnel. Our mother was born on Oshima, Japan, the eldest and cherished daughter of 8 children born to Yoshitoshi Yamada and Sumi Inouye. Our mother had run away from home to Okinawa rather than marry the man to whom she had been betrothed at birth, demonstrating the magnitude of the independence and character she retained throughout her life and setting the stage for her 3 sisters to choose their own spouses. Our father was the 2nd son of 7 children born to Moses Norris and Annie Pauline Ledbetter in Tupelo, Mississippi, the birthplace of Elvis, or as our father liked to say, if he himself had gone into singing instead of the military, there would have been no need for Elvis.
Our mother said our father had the bluest eyes she had ever seen. Our father said it was our mother's ability to see the best in everything and everyone that attracted him to her, although we are certain her natural beauty and smile and laugh that could light up any room had at least a little something to do with it, too. They were married in 1955 in a non-US-military-sanctioned ceremony as the Air Force was not too keen on its soldiers marrying non-US citizens while abroad at that time, so much so that our father was then shipped stateside in a maneuver to permanently separate them. Unlike other soldiers for whom this strategy had unfortunately worked, our father was undeterred, persisted and was eventually reassigned to Okinawa where he was reunited with our mother and married officially by US standards. So began our mother's life as a military wife, traveling with our father to assignments in Michigan, Mississippi, Okinawa, Florida, and Arkansas and enduring our father's absences through 2 tours in Vietnam and 1 tour in Korea, making beautiful gardens and real homes for her family at each and every stop.
After our father's retirement from the Air Force after 26 years of decorated service that included 2 Bronze Stars, a Meritorious Service, and 3 Air Force Commendation medals, they settled in Blytheville, Arkansas for another 26 years before moving to Everett, Washington in 2006 to be near their children.
Our mother left us first and far too soon after a bravely patient journey with primary liver cancer on March 21, 2007. Her hospice nurse commented that our mother was one of the amazing few who went straight to acceptance and didn't bother with the other stages of grief as she knew she only had so much time left to enjoy the rest of her abbreviated life, and oh, how she did. Among her many other trips and adventures, she and our father made 1 last trip back to Japan where she once again was able to see the now tall tree she had planted as a child after World War II. She took her last breath in a peaceful slumber on the 1st day of spring in 2007, just as the day broke and the clouds and rain of the preceding days gave way to sunshine.
Our father left us to join our mother on February 25, 2008. He was all about routine, including twice daily morning power-walks to help keep in check the diabetes he had as one of the many effects he suffered from Agent Orange exposure while in Vietnam. It was on one of his daily walks that a careless driver in a rush to get somewhere faster ran him over in a well-marked and well-lit crosswalk. After the death of our mother, our father moved in with his daughter and her husband, and the greatness of the joy they all shared in daily walks, lunches and dinners out, gardening, and occasional trips for ice cream is matched only by their depths of sorrow in this sudden and so unnecessary loss. He and his children leaned on each other to endure their grief at the loss of Reiko, or so we thought. It is only now that he is gone that we fully appreciate how he supported us more with his great love for us despite the devastation he felt in her loss.
James and Reiko leave behind their children to whom they were so devoted, often, to our regret, undeservedly so, Bill (Renae), Eddie, and Nancy (Ed Clark) Norris. Remembrances may be made to any animal shelter of your choice as they so loved their collies, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Providence Hospice of Snohomish County, or to anyone and anything who needs a helping and loving hand. And so that our father's death need not have been completely in vain, the next time you get behind the wheel, are in a hurry, and think saving that extra split-second is worth your while, please remember the cost to someone else and his family may be the rest of their lives."
Their cremains were buried together at sea by the USS John C. Stennis off the coast of California on January 23, 2010 per their wishes. The marker at Tahoma National Cemetery is an "in memory" marker for the both of them. There is not a day, an hour, or a minute that passes that I don't still miss them. I said following both their deaths that I miss them more than I would breathing. That still holds true and I believe it always will. Until we meet again, with all my love, Nancy.
MSgt James Gilbert Norris (1935 - 2008)
Tahoma National Cemetery
Plot: Sec. 9A site 144
Maintained by: Nancy Norris
Originally Created by: Donald Miller
Record added: Apr 22, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 68749304